Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
What is actually going on here?(25 Posts)
I am sorry in advance, I think this might be a bit rambly/venting. I am really at a loss to understand what is happening in my relationship and what (if anything) I can do about it. Maybe an outside perspective or two would help.
Firstly can I say I am not a placid and calm person. I do not do quiet resentment and much prefer to deal with things as they arise. I can be shouty and I am not good at letting the small stuff go and only taking issue with the stuff that really matters. I also have OCD, which contributes in a small way to being quite particular about how I like things done (I've had CBT and a lot of years experience in dealing with this though, so I really mean it that it's a relatively small part of how/who I am. If it's even relevant, I don't know).
The problem is my husband is a twat. No, he isn't really, but right now that's how I feel. We seem to have developed this dynamic where if I criticise him for anything, or even suggest he might be better doing something differently, he gets massively defensive and starts talking complete shit and deflecting from the issue, the situation quickly escalates, he says the first thing that comes into his head which is usually inflammatory and quite wrong, and all hell breaks loose. I try to stick to the point, he chucks in tangentially related criticisms of me, says stupid things that he really doesn't mean, and eventually someone will stomp off, sleep in the spare room, silence will reign for a day or two and then I (ALWAYS me) will break the ice and we'll talk. At this point he accepts he's been a twat and it gets brushed under the carpet until next time. And this is the problem, there's always a next time. It's about a range of things, some minor but quite annoying (a recent example, I calmly and reasonably suggested his dishwasher stacking technique might be contributing to a sub-optimal result - he just chucks stuff in, pots on top of glasses, tomato-y things not rinsed, solids still on plates) and he overreacted. Or more serious things, like 'forgetting' to strap DD in the pushchair and racing off down the street because he was running late. He could have bloody killed her, I was furious. But it turned into an analysis of how I'm always on at him and always criticising and always being horrible etc etc. He CANNOT be wrong. he CANNOT apologise. Nothing is ever his fault.
I also feel that at some level he fundamentally undervalues my contribution to this relationship. We both work FT, and at the moment earn roughly the same. However my salary will increase by a modest amount as I am promoted, whereas his has the potential to increase significantly (or not, of course, depending on how things go). We are comfortably off in that we have a good lifestyle/house/etc but with expensive childcare there is not much left at the end of the month. I mean, that there is no option for me to cut my hours or give up work.
Last night I reminded him (it's on the calendar - I organise everything to do with childcare, paying bills, extra curricular activities, all that kind of stuff. I also do all the cooking/shopping/thinking about cooking/shopping/meal planning) as it's Easter holidays the schedule is a bit different. I am having to take annual leave and I have managed to organise things so he doesn't have to change his work pattern very much. But I reminded him I need him to take DD to nursery on his way to work 2 mornings next week. Meaning that he would be an hour later that his usual (self-imposed) ridiculously early start. Well, fuck me, you'd think I'd asked him to fly to the moon. Didn't I understand he was building a business, his working week was getting shorter because of all these demands on his time, contracts were going to be lost, was I living in cloud cuckoo land thinking that everything was going to magically fall into place without him putting the hours in etc etc etc. Twat. So of course an argument ensued with me telling him they were his children as well and what did he want me to do, completely take the piss so that i get sacked and then where would we be? I just feel that I ask very little from him in that regard and it's not my fucking fault if sometimes he needs to help as well. And actually, why should I even be asking in the first place? Can he not see for himself that he might need to give this a bit of thought? It's not like I'm asking him for a favour, though that's what it feels like.
And the cooking thing. He can't/won't. Though he says he will, if I just sit down with him and 'menu plan'. Tell him what to do, basically. I don't want to tell him what to do. I want him to be able to look in the fucking fridge and see what we've got and feed the kids without acting like he's super-Dad. I am sick to death of thinking, planning, buying, cooking food for this family at every meal and having one child complain that they wanted something else, the small one chuck it on the floor or rub it in her hair, and him put his head down and chomp through it like a fucking horse, I could hear him in the next room and it makes me want to scream. This lunchtime I looked at him (still not talking after last nights argument) and I actually thought I hated him and wondered if we would be better apart.
Well that's a bit long and ranty as I expected but that's just how I feel today. he was sensible enough to realise I was at snapping point and has taken the kids out for a walk so I can have a bit of time to myself. I just sometimes feel that this has all gone on too long and we've lost respect/love for each other and maybe we're flogging a dead horse. I don't know.
Your situation is very similar to that of my sister. I believe that her husband is a narcissist. I've just been reading this;
Just a suggestion- any similarities?
He's being very unreasonable. You are a family, but he wants the autonomy he had as a single man. That's a poor deal for you
He doesn't sound like a narcissist
It does sound, though, like you are both bringing out the worst in each other, instead of working together as a team.
You acknowledge that your communication style needs work. Does he acknowledge that he also needs to work on his?
Thanks for that, interesting reading. But no, that doesn't fit with how he is really. He does listen to my point of view - eventually - and I know that he does respect my achievements and he will ask my opinion on stuff. IT's also important to him that big decisions are entered into jointly and he will often defer to me on things that I know more about, for example. It's just this massive defensive knee-jerk reaction that really gets to me. Even if he could say sorry immediately after he's been stupid, I'd not mind half so much, we all say stupid things when we're angry or emotional. I think he sees saying sorry as losing the argument. But it isn't about winning!
Yes, pocketsaviour. When we do actually calmly talk about things, he does acknowledge that. But somehow we are unable to change it much, and I am just increasingly sick of the same cycle repeating.
If somebody lectured me on how to stack a dishwasher, I would probably find a socially acceptable way to tell them to fuck off as well.
I'm not saying he's "right" and you're "wrong". But the picture you paint in your OP sounds like you tell him what he should do, and he reacts with resentment.
Are you able to step back and let him do things his way?
Is he able to react to your suggestions with more equanimity?
It sounds like your problem is one of mismatched expectations and communication styles, which couples counselling might help you address.
I do get what you mean RiceCrispie but you'll have to take my word for it that I wasn't 'lecturing' him on how to stack a dishwasher. He chucks stuff in, it comes out dirty. I don't like that and neither does he. If he's persistently doing it 'wrong', and that's the reason it isn't working, what am I supposed to do, just shut up, do it properly myself and let him carry on doing it wrong? In case he feels victimised? If he is actually doing something wrong, or even worse dangerous to the kids, why should I feel that it's OK for him to tell me to fuck off if I suggest he does it differently? How is that 'lecturing him'? Y'see that to me smacks of a kind of attitude that paints me as a 'nag' because I object to him doing things wrong. I don't think I tell him what to do, but I don't see why he can't effectively do the stuff I am expected to do, which, and I suspect this is part of my irritation with it all, is largely what I suppose you'd call 'wife-work'.
Am I able to step back and let him do things his way? Not when it results in inconvenience to me or danger to the kids, no.
Is he able to react to my suggestions with more equanimity? Apparently not.
Though I agree with your overall assessment and counselling might be the way to go. I see that being a struggle though. Sigh.
It doesn't sound as if either of you like or respect each other. Your language is very abrasive and dismissive of him. What positives are you getting from this relationship exactly?
Yes, that's how it sounds. That's how it feels as well, sometimes.
The positives? Well, we've been through a lot together, at some fundamental level we do love each other and have a strong bond. We have two great kids and things could be worse. But they also could be a lot better, and as we can't seem to make that happen, I'm getting to the stage where I'm wondering if it's good enough to stay/bad enough to leave.
I'd raise counselling and if he doesn't go for that, then seriously, I'd reconsider whether I could see myself being with him much longer.
I'd want an acknowledgement from him that it's got that bad and that you both need to play a part in remedying it.
I've been with my DH for 25 years and I recognise moments like you mention. but they have been very few and far between. If I felt I couldn't raise a small mundane point about dishwashers without a blowup I'd be distraught
It feels to me as if you aren't far from really disliking him, and I can see why.
Do you think that he is deliberately inept so that he doesnt get asked to do stuff again?
You do not have equal shares of the planning and doing of family life. You are bearing the brunt. This may have crept up on you over time as he has deliberately swerved responsibility and chores. This may have been quite subtle on his behalf - but it will exhaust and infuriate you. You sound like you are there. Is he an entitled man child and/or passive aggressive - have you seen the threads on here about this?
If you recognise these behaviours - you need to front him up on it. You are an equal partnership, so he needs to change and step up. Otherwise you need to separate as this is not a sustainable or healthy dynamic for your MH or as an example to your children.
My Mum always criticised my Dad and still does even though he is long gone! He certainly wasn't perfect but he added value to their relationship in ways that she couldn't (and still doesn't) see. He took care of all the paperwork, bills, dealt with all the important stuff that was a bit beyond her, was the main breadwinner, the calm in the storm, stoic and reliable. It makes me really sad that she never appreciated the 'real him'.
My Mum was controlling and always wanted things done 'her way'. It was so tiring and eventually i avoided doing things at home as nothing was ever right.
I vowed that I wouldn't be like that with DH. There are plenty of times I want him to do things differently but I tend to bite my tongue as I know what it's like to be told to do things 'this way' and 'not that way'.
You seem to be lacking kindness and respect. Whatever you focus on, positive or negative, will snowball. If you're thinking he's an incompetent twat who is incapable of loading the dishwasher then you're really heading in the wrong direction. Try to be kinder, choose your words carefully, focus on the little positive things and see where it takes you. You might just be surprised...
Check out [[ mustbethistalltoride
at some fundamental level we do love each other
That sounds like you have to dig deep to find the love.
Not surprised you are resentful. Why the fuck should you do all the shit stuff?
Losing a husband loses you 8 hours a week manual labour....imagine what you could do with that
Seriously, you are not a domestic slave. And because you are a woman it doesn't make it automatic that you do all the housework.
His response about the work thing/ dropping kids makes it sound like he thinks his job is more important. The way he refuses to do housework makes it sound like he thinks he's too good for it.
If he refuses to budge and start STACKING A FUCKING DISHWASHER and COOKING SOME FUCKING FOOD then I too would consider my options.
OP doesn't sound disrespectful
Of her DH, she sounds totally worn down and fed up of his ways.
No suggestions OP, but sending you thoughts. I couldn't live like this either. Cards on the table I think.
You sound abrasive because you are and quite bloody right! I would begin to hate my DH if he did as you describe. What are you meant to do? Be the wife and his mother and work full time - he is a twat. No wonder you are considering your options.
With all due respect, OPs husband does sounds different from your dad
Are you married to my exH?
You have just described my life for the last 3 years. I have ended up strongly resenting H because it all falls to me. I left and it is like a huge weight has been lifted.
Your life sounds exhausting, OP. I'd struggle, too.
I think you are both going to keep going around in circles here, until one of you breaks the cycle. It sounds like history just keeps on repeating itself. Maybe counselling would help to stop the rut, if you feel it would be worthwhile? From your post it sounds like you both don't actually like each other & I can kind of see both sides of the argument here. You'd like to think he'd be the one who step up & break the silence from time to time or even make the big call to either sort things out, seek outside help or walk
Thanks all. There's no quick answer, I know that but it's still a bit sad to hear that from other people. I have suggested counselling, and I don't think he's completely averse to the idea, but logistically it would be difficult as we don't have a lot of options for childcare outside of working hours.
I did just want to say, though TomKitten that it's not just about wanting things done 'my way'. I want them done right. And when I ask for them to be done right - tactfully and thoughtfully - (because it really is easier to do something right, not do it in some half-arsed way that then needs re-done or actually is so half-arsed it's dangerous; I can manage it, why can't he?) what I expect is a sensible, mature response rather than a stream of defensive bollocks and deflection/criticism. I completely fail to see why I should 'bite my tongue' and 'focus on the little positives'. He's not a child, and I refuse to treat him like one.
Also, he does do housework. Just not cooking/shopping/thinking about cooking and shopping.
Join the discussion
Please login first.